Panama Pete Adventures                                     

Railroad
Location: Panama City, Colon & Portobelo
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Departure Time:  6:00 AM or 10:00 AM
Minimum: 2

After breakfast this morning, you will visit the town of Portobelo. Columbus first discovered the Bay of Portobelo in 1502; the town itself was founded in 1597 by the Spaniards. Along with Panama City, this port town became a major center for the storage and shipment of goods and riches from the Spanish Pacific domains (particularly gold and silver from Peru and Bolivia.) The town was known for its trading fairs, which lasted from 40 to 60 days and attracted fleets of military and merchant ships loaded with goods to be traded for gold and silver. During these fairs the town would swell to nearly 6000 people. To prevent pirate attacks, the city was fortified by 3 large stone forts, which face the harbor; nevertheless, the city was often sacked by English buccaneers. Visit Fort Santiago and the museum in the old Customs House. There is time to browse for handicrafts in the local merchants’ shops before visiting the Church of San Felipe, one of the oldest buildings in town still in use. The church houses the statue of the Black Christ, one of the most revered images in Panama whose feast is celebrated each year on October 21. Later, drive to Colón, the second-largest city in Panama, where you board the elegant cars of the Panama Canal Railroad and travel back across the isthmus to Panama City. Along the way, you will see ships sitting in Gatun Lake waiting to descend 85 feet back to sea level and vessels going up into Gatun Lake to start a southbound transit.